Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Looking in the Mirror

Published: February 16, 2011, Author: JayTaber

Ending the drug wars responsible for so much misery at the hands of US military proxies is slow going, but that hasn’t deterred the president of Bolivia from defending the right of indigenous peoples to use coca leaf. Locked into the militarized anti-narcotics mindset that continues to demonize this mild stimulant used daily by the Quechua and Aymara peoples of the Andes, the United States still opposes changing international law to recognize the indigenous peoples’ right to use this tonic and medicine in their daily lives and religious ceremonies.

Ironically, while the US allows domestic use of peyote (a psychoactive medicinal plant) by American Indians under the concept of religious freedom, it is dead set against coca, a benign stimulant consumed in Bolivian tea houses. It’s the same mentality that criminalizes cannabis.

As the World Health Organization has documented in numerous studies, US society and culture is detrimental to mental health, and part of that is an attitude of belligerence. Culturally accepted levels of violence, I would posit, are a direct result of an inability to come to terms with institutionalized aggression toward indigenous peoples, their cosmology and cultural expression. The use of entheogens and other natural plants to enhance physical and mental health is anathema to the dominant view of militarized society, which is at the root of why Americans demand and consume destructive substances like alcohol, heroin and cocaine in such large quantities.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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